If you are lucky enough to be an owner in Vancouver’s white-hot real estate market, you’re well ahead of the curve. If you are renting your property, then you’re probably also aware that protecting your investment while fulfilling your obligations to your tenants can be a real struggle. Landlord Tenancy Law disputes are an ever-changing area to navigate as an owner, so it’s good to know where you stand.
- Can you make renovations?
Renovations are a bit of a tricky issue. Of course you are allowed to fix a loose step or cracked window, but that requires you give your tenants 24 hours of notice. If you want to do more significant repairs, such as tarring a leaky roof, or tearing up the carpet, we get into territory of tenant/owner disputes. But there is a simple rule of thumb. The key word here is: quiet enjoyment. If your renovations disrupt the quiet enjoyment of your tenant’s stay, then your renovation will probably be vetoed except for hours that work for your tenants. The secret here, as with most things in life – is communication – if you talk to your tenants and maintain a good relationship, you will probably be able to work out something without getting lawyers involved.
- What about the security deposit?
Did you know that your tenant’s security deposit is subject to inflation? As a landlord, your responsibility is to put that deposit in an account with a (conservative) rate of growth. Too many landlords just put that cheque straight into their bank accounts and forget about it until the day comes. Don’t. Create a separate savings account for your tenants, so it grows in the time that they are there and also so that you don’t spend it!
When it comes to returning a security deposit, remember the “wear and tear” of your unit must take into consideration the length of time your tenant was in the dwelling. For instance, if the carpet looks like it is 25 years old after your tenants have been there for a quarter century, there is a chance you will be on the hook for fixing the damage.
Whether it is the landlord or the tenants responsibility to repair damage depends on how the damage was done and what was damaged. That could be an issue for a lawyer experienced in Landlord Tenancy disputes. Give us a call, and we’ll let you know before the trips to Home Depot begin.
- What if your tenant wants to sublet your unit?
If your tenant is on a month-to-month lease then they need your written consent to assign or sublet their lease to someone else. If they are on a fixed-term lease, and in particular leases that last for six months or more, then it can be very difficult to prevent them getting a new tenant for your property. You will want to talk to a lawyer to know what you can reasonably do in such a situation.
- Notice of eviction – how many days?
If you have a lousy tenant that isn’t paying their rent, you have to give them 10 days to clear out. Then, hopefully they pay or leave without a dispute, but you could be into a mess if they have willfully caused damage as a result of the eviction. That’s when you’ll need to talk to us.
If your tenant is great, but you want to move back in all the same, you need to give them two months to get their affairs in order. A tenant could challenge the reason you want to move back, however, in which case you may need us.
There are always shades of grey, of course, and that is why you need a lawyer knowledgeable in landlord tenancy disputes in your corner. After all, an empty house is better than a bad tenant.